To the silent members of LGBTQ plus community,
At 14 years old, Clawdeena9 was what I called my YouTube channel as opposed to what I called myself. During that time, I was someone who felt angry and unheard. So, I grabbed a bottle of pills and took a handful. When I realized I regretted taking the pills, I told my sister and I was rushed to the hospital. I didn’t attempt suicide because I wanted to die. I attempted suicide because I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted someone to hear me even though, like you, I was living in silence.
Starting in fifth grade, I tried to be someone, anyone, other than myself.
Fifth grade was the year I wore a purple shirt to school and some of the other kids made fun of me, calling me gay. Both of my parents are ordained ministers. Being gay, queer or transgender was a big no.
I thought to myself, “I can’t be that. That can’t be me.”
I did everything to try and make sure it wasn’t me.
When my classmates started saying my voice was feminine, I went on YouTube and looked up videos on how to deepen my voice and disguise my femininity. Talking a lot less and isolating myself became strategies to blend in with the other boys in school.
Also, I would study the guys around me, attempting to mimic their body language. I would copy how my male classmates would sit, slouching and putting my arm on my thigh just to appear more masculine.
Trying to be someone I wasn’t caused me to develop such bad anxiety, I couldn’t focus on the chalkboard at school. From fifth to eighth grade, I struggled so much that I often had to be taken out of school to be homeschooled.
While I started a YouTube channel when I was 10 years old, called Clawdeena9, for a while it just felt like I was living a double life, instead of living as one whole person. The name of my channel was inspired by a doll but it wasn’t my name. People called me Matt.
I didn’t attempt suicide because I wanted to die. I attempted suicide because I wanted the pain to stop.
I made friends online and met my first boyfriend. He lived in Tennessee. While my parents didn’t know the nature of our relationship, at 13 years old I begged them to take me from Florida where we lived, to Tennessee to hang out with him. During the trip, my boyfriend and I took pictures of us kissing and holding hands. One day my mother found the pictures on my laptop and she and my sister, with my consent, told my dad that I was gay. My whole family embraced me and told me they loved me unconditionally.
Coming out to my family was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. But I still suffered from a lot of anxiety because I bottled up my feelings and didn’t feel comfortable at school.
By eighth grade, I was out. No longer was I offended by being called gay but rather I was hurt by the way my classmates treated me. Defined by my sexuality – I wasn’t a name. I wasn’t a person. I was the gay kid.
That’s when I tried to kill myself. That’s when I swallowed all of those pills. I was 14 and while my sexuality was out, my emotions remained locked inside of me. After that extremely low moment, I stopped putting on a facade and started to learn to open up.
Expressing my feelings brought my family together and I began to feel whole.
Also, on my YouTube channel, I started creating stop motions with dolls, which is a form of animation. It became my way of coping with life, as I could create stories and music videos that paralleled situations in real life.
People started calling me by my self-given drag name, Marissa, but I realized I didn’t identify as a drag queen and Marissa wasn’t how I wanted to be addressed. So I eventually decided I was and I am Clawdeena. Through Clawdeena, I have been able to embrace my femininity, exploring what I do and don’t like as far as clothes, a look and every other aspect of my being.
Stop motions eventually transitioned into makeup. For years, I loved to do makeup on other people but when I discovered I could do makeup on myself I became enamored with the art of transformation. Even to this day, I think transformation, regardless of gender and sexuality, is a very invigorating experience. With makeup, I can be a chameleon, as opposed to forcing my identity into a box someone else built. It also introduced me to a community of fellow makeup artists, transformists and doll enthusiasts.
Right now, I am not entirely sure how I identify my gender. I am more in the non-binary category, living fluidly between my femininity and my masculinity. I strongly believe that there is no black and white. We’re all human and living a very human experience. With that said, I’m proud to be queer and part of the LGBTQ plus community and I hope you are too.
However, if you are currently struggling, I want you to know that life is very hard but it does get better. Whatever challenges you face, your feelings are real and valid. Even so, it’s important that you know that life will change – not necessarily because circumstances change but you will learn to make different choices.
Now, I am 20 years old. There are days I still struggle with depression, anxiety or even suicidal thoughts. In these low moments, I choose to text a crisis center or speak to a clinician. The important part of self-love isn’t always loving yourself, but taking the appropriate action when you need help.
My past includes a lot of pain, but I don’t regret or resent any of the experiences I have gone through because it all led me to Clawdeena.
As Clawdeena, I am living my life with confidence, not because I found a way to explain my identity to others but because I now possess the courage to use different forms of self-expression to freely discover who I am within myself.
With tremendous pride,
About the author:
Clawdeena is a YouTube star. She uses makeup as a form of self-expression, as she embraces who she is and what she feels. At just 20 years old, Clawdeena is an advocate and a leader in the LGBTQ plus community.
Repost, React and Giveback:
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Peter Stevens is donating $100 to Crisis Text Line in honor of the first 100 shares of Clawdeena’s letter.
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[…] enough, in the email was your letter to your late father, former NBA basketball star Anthony Mason, talking about your struggles after his death. You wrote […]
Sweet Lauren, I agree completely with the promise that Brian asked you to make. Frankly, it is the only way that I know to love; totally, completely, wholly and unconditionally. You deserve nothing less, nor does your future love.
Wow. What a truly moving and powerful story. We often take for granted the small gifts we give each other just by being present. I'm sad for the heartache. I'm glad you stayed and became. Who knows what little girl or boy will be attributing their life's purpose to some kindness you shared. Peace and Sunshine
You’re welcome Lauren looking forward to all the future stories :)
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
Thank you Tony. I appreciate all your support.
I’m sorry to hear about Brian but he was right you are too beautiful to not receive roses Lauren:)
[…] Here is why you need to stop being nice and start being loud […]
Thanks for this! So what movie set did you get on?
So nice Roger <3
Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain
Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.